Anger: Don’t Suppress, Express!


We had a mom tell us what happened when she “let her daughter give it to her”. This type of emotional release and expression is difficult for parents as it brings up our own fears. This is a courageous move and becomes just one step closer to reducing the emotional charge for both mother and daughter.

It was the best thing I could have done. Three days later she told me that she was surprised by my reaction: Tears. She also said that if I had just said I understood her feelings, or consequenced her for her violent outburst, and not had my “unexpected reaction”, she would have been made mad. So though I felt I let her down by being devastated at her harsh words (which I later found were actually directed at birth mum), it was a good thing as it showed how deeply I cared. And progress was made. I’ll be better prepared if it happens again!” — Happy Mum

When people/children get angry, it is no different than the dog that growls — it is a signal that you’re supposed to back up for safety, because the dog is feeling threatened. This is good for all involved. We can back up, and the dog can relax. Sure, we can yell at the dog, but will it help it feel safer?

Typically anger pushes people away and creates distance. The irony is it is motivated by a desire or a demand for the connection and attention that is needed or desired. I heard a definition of drama that goes like this — the behavior that attempts to get the love that one cannot give to oneself. So the anger then creates the exact opposite of what we really need — love and connection. When we can “connect/understand/relate” to that need to “feel love and safety”, the feeling of “being threatened/feeling anger” starts to shift.

When you can accept that your child is angry or that your spouse is angry, then it changes your internal perception. We move from experiencing “hey you’re angry” to “oh, you need something here…”. These are worlds apart. And the difference is the opportunity for real change.

Ideally you will be able to sit in the presence of you’re child’s anger, unmoved, and say, “Give me more”. And the same for your spouse. Yes, even here. Don’t suppress, express. This is not an invitation to be mean to anyone. It is an invitation to ‘move beyond’.

You cannot take a child, emotionally speaking, where you cannot go yourself. It is of great benefit to get comfortable with emotional expression be it sadness or anger, and to be able to just “be” with a person or child in a way that invites them to experience it fully (and thereby allowing the emotional charge to dissipate) rather than dismiss, judge or try to get them to “feel better”. We can begin this by practicing on ourselves and allow ourselves the “luxury” of feeling what we feel as a discovery process rather than judging and trying to rid ourselves of it (suppressing) to help us to “feel better”. Feeling better is not the goal. “Feeling” is. So feel what you feel and encourage others in your life.

When disturbing things happen, we need to be able to talk about what happened in whatever capacity we need to talk about it. Emotional expression is not “off limits”. When dealing with older children, young adults and even our spouses, having an “adult conversation” for example is not a requirement and can often create unreasonable expectations. Keep it safe of course.

The greatest gift your child has given you is given you an opportunity to let the “emotional stuff” show up.

How does this make you feel?

Choose Love,

— B